Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17 (Facebook photo)
The Muslim parents of a young Christian runaway who fears for her life are devout members of mosque with ties to numerous terrorist leaders, the girl’s attorney warned today.
As WND reported, Fathima Rifqa Bary, 17, an honor student and cheerleader, was raised in a Muslim family in Columbus, Ohio. She became a Christian four years ago as a result of her interactions with children at school.
But Bary, a native of Sri Lanka, hitchhiked to a bus station and ran away from home July 19 because she says her family will murder her in what is known as an “honor killing” for converting to Christianity. In Islamic tradition, an honor killing is the killing of a person believed to have brought dishonor upon his or her family. The United Nations tabulates about 5,000 such “honor killings” annually around the world, and they have been documented even in the United States.
Bary sought refuge with a church group in Florida but has been in state foster care by court order. Her next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 2:30 p.m., at which time a dependency petition will be argued.
Orlando, Fla., trial lawyer John Stemberger, attorney for Rifqa Barry, announced in a press teleconference today that he has filed additional documents in support of the girl’s petition for dependency that outline the Bary family mosque’s terrorist ties.
Noor Center’s terrorist ties
Stemberger said Bary’s parents are devoted followers of leaders and teachings of the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, also known as the Noor Center, located in Dublin, Ohio.
“The primary issue in this case is the clear and present danger that is presented by the Noor Center mosque and its ties to terrorist activity and the Bary parents’ devotion to, relationship with, and regular participation in the Noor Center,” he said.
According to exhibits submitted by the Department of Justice during a terrorism finance trial, the CEO of the Noor Center, Hany Saqr, has direct ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brotherhood of North America is an international organization which was responsible for birthing every Islamic terror organization in the world, including al-Qaida,” Stemberger said. “So, when you think about al-Qaida, you can think that the Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for al-Qaida’s existence.”
Saqr had also been an imam, or Islamic religious leader, for another mosque in the same area of Columbus at the same time the largest-known al-Qaida cell in the United States was operating out of that mosque, according to an Investigation and Intelligence Memorandum filed by Stemberger today.
Saqr’s subordinate, Ismail Elbarasse, was one of the top Hamas operatives in the country and had provided at least $735,000 to Hamas at that time. Saqr was also listed as a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood official in a 1992 phone directory recovered from the home of a Hamas operative.
Mousa Abu Marzook, another operational head of the Hamas terrorist organization that operated out of the U.S. placed numerous calls to Saqr’s home.
Central Ohioans Aganst Terrorism photo shows Salah Sultan (right) with Hamas spiritual leader and self-proclaimed Jew-hater Yusuf al-Qaradawi (center) and Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood leader Faisal al-Malawi (left).
Stemberger also noted that Salah Sultan, a former Islamic scholar associated with the Noor Center whose family household is located only one mile from the Bary family’s mosque, has been photographed with leaders who have been designated terrorists by the U.S. government.
“Dr. Sultan has recently appeared on television inciting violence against Jews, and he has previously appeared at events in support of designated terrorist organizations while an active part of the Noor Center community,” the memorandum states.
Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, Ohio
While Sultan was a central Ohio resident, he participated in the issuance of Islamic fatwas authorizing attacks against U.S. military troops in Iraq, according to the report. He has also defended Islamic punishments such as stoning and amputations.
In a May 2006 appearance on the Al-Risala television network, the Middle East Media Research Institute revealed Sultan accused the U.S. government of playing a role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attempting to wage war against Islam. He also praised al-Qaida cleric and Osama bin Laden mentor Abdul Majid al-Zindani – a U.S.-designated global terrorist who recruited for al-Qaida training camps.
Last December, just days after visiting the Noor Center, the memorandum states that Sultan appeared on the Al-Nas television network and “approvingly invoked an Islamic hadith that says the Day of Judgment will not come until the Muslims slaughter the Jews. He predicted death and destruction for America, saying that such vengeance was ‘coming soon’ …”
“Currently we believe that he has been banned from re-entering the U.S. because his citizenship application has been denied,” Stemberger said.
Meeting in the Bary family home
Fathima Rifqa Bary’s father, Mohamed
The document lists “a long line of extremist speakers” invited to the Bary family’s mosque recently – including one regular speaker and fundraiser who was listed by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“They have had a number of extremist speakers featured at the Noor Center – such speakers where the Bary parents go to hear on a regular basis, weekly and sometimes biweekly. These speakers are on the record making statements in support of violence, terrorism and extremism,” Stemberger said.
The Investigation and Intelligence Memorandum also states that the Noor Center has been “directly tied to the ongoing nationwide investigation into Somali-American youths who have left the U.S. to train in terror camps operated by the Al-Qaeda-linked [sic] Al-Shabaab terror organization.”
Stemberger said the Bary family regularly socialized with other members of the Noor Center and hosted several Noor Center events inside their home.
“My father was very intent on making sure that his children, and especially me, were raised deeply in the faith of ‘Original Islam,’ which was taught at the Noor Center,” Bary stated in a signed affidavit.
She said her father required her to attend “Halaqah” youth gatherings that lasted about five hours, in addition to three-hour events she attended every Friday during the summer.
Fearing for her life
Atlas Shrugs‘ Pamela Geller has followed Bary’s case closely, reporting that the girl’s friends accompanied her to the school counselor after they noticed bruises covering her arms and legs that allegedly resulted from beatings by her father.
“Beatings were random, violent, unprovoked,” Geller reported. “Take, for example, when Rifqa and her father Mohamed were driving in the car. He would force her to wear the hijab (head covering), which she hated. In her discomfort she would slouch down, embarrassed, and her father would haul off and sock her in the face so that she never forgot to sit up straight in her costume. The beatings were regular and so much a part of the landscape of Rifqa’s life, she became inured to them …”
Bary’s attorney confirmed that the teen had been a victim of beatings at the hands of her father.
“Her father has slapped her with such force that it has knocked her over,” Stemberger said. “Her father asked her to wear the official headdress of Islam. Because she lowered her body down in the car so she couldn’t be seen, he punched her on the side of her face with great force because she was ashamed of that.”
The Christian teen turned to pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church in Orlando, Fla., whom she met through Facebook. She has been placed in foster care by the Florida Department of Children and Families, or DCF.
As WND reported, a Florida judge determined Aug 21 that she would not be returned immediately to her family in Ohio as her parents wished. She’s now awaiting a decision on whether she will become a dependant of the state until Aug 10, 2010 – her 18th birthday.
Blake Lorenz embraced the emotional teen as she told her story in the following video posted on YouTube:
“I’m a Christian, and my parents are Muslim. They are extremely devout,” she said. “They threatened to kill me. … You guys wouldn’t understand. Islam is very different than you guys think. They have to kill me. My blood is now halal, which means that because I am now a Christian, I’m from a Muslim background, it’s an honor. If they love God more than me, they have to do this. I’m fighting for my life. …”
Asked what her father, Mohamed Bary, told her, she replied, “He said he would kill me. Or he’d have me sent back to Sri Lanka where they’d put me in the asylum.”
She said she left a note for her parents before she ran away: “I said, ‘I refuse to deny Jesus. He is my Lord and Savior. I pray you find his forgiveness and mercy, and I love you both dearly.’ I wrote that, but they never showed it to the police officers.”
Bary warned that if she is forced to return to her family in Ohio, she will die “within a week.”
Fathima Rifqa Bary
Asked why she ran away, she said, “I was threatened by my dad. When my dad found out – I had a Facebook, that’s how he found out – and phone calls from the Muslim community started coming in with e-mails that confronted me. And I had a laptop and he took that laptop and waved it in the air, and he was about to beat me with it, and he said, ‘If you have this Jesus in your heart, you’re dead to me. You’re not my daughter.’ And I refused to speak but he said, ‘I will kill you. Tell me the truth.’ In these words, bad words, cuss words. So I knew that I had to get away.”
Bary said her father received numerous e-mails and phone calls from leaders of the Muslim community from the Noor Center, warning that his daughter was an apostate. So the teenager sought to escape with her life.
Bary said she would sneak out to Christian prayer meetings and hide her Bible from her parents. After her father confronted her, he forced her to attend several classes, hoping she would return to Islam. However, several weeks later, her mother discovered a Christian book that belonged to her.
“I knew right then that it was over for me,” she said. “I had to leave.”
Fox News reported that the father discovered she had been baptized earlier this year.
The teenager said that in the 150 generations of her family, no one has ever known Jesus.
“I am the first one,” she said. “Imagine the honor in killing me.”
Bary said she wants to remain in Florida so she can be free to worship Jesus, go to church and read her Bible.
“You talk about religious freedom?” she asked. “No! I don’t have that. I want to be here. I want to worship Jesus freely. I don’t want to die.”
Bary’s father, a jeweler, called the church a “cult” and claimed it has brainwashed Fatima.
“This is a cult group who kidnapped my daughter and took her away,” Mohamed Bary told WESH 2 News.
WND located the following photo of Bary with a boy named Tayee Adrian on Facebook. A messages left with Adrian had not been returned at the time of this report.
Facebook photo of Fathima Rifqa Bary posted by boy named Tayee Adrian
Stemberger said he hopes the court will consider extensive evidence concerning the extremist ideology promoted by the Bary family mosque when it determines whether to protect her from her family and declare her a dependent of the state of Florida.
“Based upon everything that we have researched and all the experts I have listened to,” Stemberger said, “I think that there is no question in my mind that if she is sent back to Ohio, it is only a matter of time before she slips away in the night.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families may be reached by calling (850)487-1111 or fax (850)922-2993.
Verne Melvin, acting regional director of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Department of Children and Families, may be reached by calling (407)245-0400.